I was recently reviewing Model Railroad Planning 1995 when I noticed a common theme in the articles that was not as obvious as the theme of junctions. I realized that these articles were really discussing ways to slow down the pace of the trains in a prototypical manner. Now, pacing devices seem to be used and thought of more in the planning stages of railroads. They allow operators more prototypical time to complete switching chores as well as provide for longer runs for mainline engineers. If you are modeling dark territory, then these devices also allow more time to write flimsies (Form 19s and 31s). The trend is to run fast time in a 6:1 or 3:1 or slower ratio. I remember reading about one modeler who runs his “fast” time at 1:1. This not only allows for more time to carry out prototypical operations but also allows individuals to forget about the hectic work day by not requiring the same pace in an operating session. Yet, there still is a time factor and the requirement to move freight. The pacing device plays a part in this scheme of slowing down the pace.
For instance, Bill Darnaby was using junctions on his unsignaled Maumee Route pike. The territory is dark and requires a timetable and train orders for movement. However, writing these orders takes time. In addition, switching moves happen in a prototypical time period as opposed to a model train taking five minutes or less to reach the next town. To help with this problem Bill put approximately nine crossings on his layout – all at grade. These crossings, when red, require that the trains approaching them slow and stop. He also installed an electronic device which senses the approaching train and runs a simple test that will either set the signals to red or will allow the train to go through the crossing. The gizmo simply flips an electronic coin to determine whether the crossing is occupied by the other railroads train. Bill calls such things a pacing device.
The Atlantic Great Eastern, owned and operated by John Ozanich, uses a steep grade over the Mahoosic Notch as a pacing device. Uphill trains require the use of a helper to climb this hill. This means that the train must stop twice: once at the foot of the grade for a helper to cut into the train; and, a second time at the summit for the helper to cut out of the train and to reassemble it. This also requires an air brake test before the train can leave the bottom of the grade and before it can continue on after reaching the top of the grade. Likewise, trains going downhill must set air brake retainers at the summit and must release them at the foot of the hill. The downhill train must also allow the wheels and brakes to cool before proceeding. All of these actions take time. A good article appeared in the November 1994 issue of Model Railroader which discussed the air brake system history, how the system works, and how we can model it. Please see that article about further information on air brakes.
Think about other pacing devices that could exist on a railroad. Some bridges have speed restrictions. This could cause a train to slow down. A slow order for a stretch of track that the gandy dancers are working on would also slow down the pace. Many more daily chores on the railroad can be simulated on the model pike and these would slow down the pace of the operating session.
I would like to hear from some of you and any pacing devices you use on your layout. I promise to let others know about those devices that modelers tell me about. In addition, for anyone who works on the railroad, please let me know what things that can be easily modeled slow down your everyday activities.
Until the next time, Highball!